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CostHelper > Pets & Pet Care  > Raising Chickens

Raising Chickens Cost


How Much Does Raising Chickens Cost?

 
low costDay-Old Chicks: $5-$10 for Threeaverage costPullets (Laying Hens): $15-$25 Eachhigh costChicken Coop: $115-$1,750+
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With the rise of the local food movement, many families have taken to raising chickens in small coops in their backyards or even on patios. Usually the chickens take on a hybrid role as both pet and food provider, as most female chickens (hens) lay eggs several times a week.

Typical costs:

  • Most hobby chicken owners buy day-old chicks, which cost from about $5 to $10 for three. Ready-to-lay chickens, called pullets, cost about $15 to $25 each. MyPetChicken.com[1] lists farms and hatcheries that sell chickens.
  • A HenSpa coop with a heated water bucket, three nests, two roosts, a light (and its timer) and a sunroof costs $1,750 at ShoptheCoop.com.
  • The Eglu[2] is a small plastic coop that fits two chickens and is popular in urban areas. It's sold by Omlet for $500.
  • Other readymade options include a simple coop for about $300 or a coop with netting on wheels that holds six chickens and costs $1,399.
  • Building plans for Do-It-Yourself coops can be purchased at BackyardChickens.com[3] for between $15 and $50; Do It Yourself coops can be built for anywhere from $100 to $1,000 depending on the materials and size.
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What should be included:
  • Chicken husbandry is a bit more complicated than keeping a dog or cat as a pet. Aside from feeding and watering, you'll need to collect the eggs each morning and clean the coop about once a month. MyPetChicken.com provides a how-to guide[4] .
  • The backyard chicken coop typically contains three to ten chickens, usually all female but sometimes with one male, a rooster. The coop ranges in size, but is rarely larger than a tall hatchback vehicle. Look for a portable model, as chickens like to graze in the open field. If the coop is on wheels, it can be moved to different sections of the backyard.
  • Other considerations when purchasing a coop include the number of chickens, ease of cleanup, materials used, sturdiness and portability. The coop should include nesting spots for the chickens to lay eggs and roosting spots for them to sleep.
  • Considerations when choosing chickens include their temperament and egg output. Many hobbyist chicken keepers choose Bantams, a smaller version of the Standard size chicken. Most Bantam breeds are friendly and productive, meaning they provide an egg daily. Especially productive breeds include the Leghorn; popular ornamental chickens include the Silky. Ornamental chickens typically produce about three eggs a week. Read more about breed types at ChickenCrossing.org[5]
Additional costs:
  • Day-old chicks need to be kept in a "brooder" box with a heat lamp and thermometer to keep them warm until their feathers have fully grown in. Brooder boxes can be as simple as a rubber tote purchased from any department store for about $15, a heat lamp costs about $35; and a thermometer can be bought for about $5.
  • Feeders and waterers range in price from about $10 to $30.
  • In colder climates the chickens' nesting area and food must be kept warm. A nesting box heater costs $50; food and water heaters cost between $20 and $50.
  • Chicken feed costs $50 for a 50-pound bag. Plan on five chicks going through about a half a pound of starter feed per day so one bag should last about two and a half months. Five grown chickens go through about a bag a month.
  • Instead of buying chicks, consider buying fertilized eggs to hatch. An incubator is needed for this. Incubators cost about $110 with an egg turner.
Shopping for raising chickens:
  • Check local laws to be sure that keeping chickens is allowed, and to apply for a permit if needed. In some areas, chickens are allowed but are not permitted to roam free; in others, chickens are not allowed at all.
  • Most cities have a noise ordinance to take into consideration. Roosters are much noisier than hens; most hens primarily make noise in the morning when they're laying eggs.
  • Urbanchickens.org answers frequently asked questions regarding urban chicken raising.
  • Although there have been no cases of humans contracting bird flu from backyard chickens, be cautious when handling chickens. Visit Flu.gov for more details.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.mypetchicken.com/about-chickens/farms-and-hatcheries.aspx
  2.  www.omlet.us/products_services/products_services.php?view=Chickens&about=pricing
  3.  www.backyardchickens.com/atype/2/Coops
  4.  www.mypetchicken.com/backyard-chickens/chicken-care/guide-toc.aspx
  5.  www.chickencrossing.org/basics.php
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